Switched from Palm to Pocket PC

I’ve always wanted to own a Personal Digital Assistant or PDA. When I did begin using one, I rarely use it for it’s real purpose though: a digital Filofax (a place to keep all my appointments and contacts). I use it more as a digital journal where I wrote my thoughts anywhere I go. That and basically have a portable computer that can fit in my pocket. Yes, I’m such a nerd.

The first PDA I ever owned was a pathetic and unreliable little thing called a DaVinci. It’s similar to a Palm Pilot (the actual device uses the same processor used by Palm Pilots of the day) except this one had poor handwriting recognition and it shut down intermittently. I returned the sorry thing and got a refund only after a lot of arguments with the shop that sold it to me.

I’ve always bought into Palm-powered PDAs after that. I’ve owned a Palm m105, a Palm m125 and, recently, a Sony Clie TG-50. I was a Palm fanatic. Until a couple of days ago, that is. Last Friday, I “defected” over to the Pocket PC camp.

I wanted to replace my Sony Clie since late last year. I originally bought the Clie for its built-in mini keyboard. But after using it for a while, I realised that it is actually easier and faster to just write using Palm’s Graffiti writing software.

Also, while it is mp3 capable and it comes with its own limited mp3 player software, its audio hardware isn’t compatible with standard Palm mp3 software therefore prohibiting me from replacing it with a more feature-packed player.

At first, I thought about getting a Palm Zire 72 for its built-in camera, bigger memory, dedicated writing area (silk screen) and mp3 capabilities. However, doing a bit of research on this model, I’ve uncovered that the Zire 72 has a high probability of having problems with the battery draining out during the night (and consequently, losing all data on the memory), with security software that doesn’t function properly and with the stylus tracking accuracy deterioration. I’m not actually surprised with the last problem because my Palm m125 suffered from that problem in the end.

So, I’m thinking, all Palm PDAs might have the same problem. Since my Sony Clie was pretty stable, I thought that maybe I should just get another Sony Clie like the acclaimed Sony Clie TH55. However, when I tried looking for more information regarding that PDA on Sony’s website, I can’t get anything. Then, I found out why: Sony exited handheld market.

That meant that if I stick with using Palm-powered PDAs, I’d have to buy an actual Palm PDA (no Clies and no Handspring Visors anymore). After what I found out about Palm PDAs, I was no longer willing to buy a Zire or any other current Palm PDA model for that matter. I still wanted to replace my PDA though so I had no choice but to look at the competition: the Pocket PC.

Both Raquel and I didn’t know anything about Pocket PCs. Which brands and/or models are good? Are the models being sold in the shops the latest models? I did some research on the web. Based on my budget for a new PDA and acceptable specifications, I decided to go for an HP iPAQ hx2110 last Friday.

Well, it wasn’t a disappointment! I love it. I did miss some of the things I liked about the Palm software in general and the Sony Clie in particular like the jog dial which I now realised I was heavily reliant on.

Also, being a Windows user for a very long time, I was pleasantly surprised at how much using Pocket PC’s Windows Mobile 2003 OS felt familiar. And since I’m also a Microsoft software developer, if there’s any software I’d like to have on my Pocket PC, I can just make one myself. I’m quite happy with the switch. I just wish I made the switch a long time ago.

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Published in: on February 27, 2005 at 10:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Gaslight Night Market

Today is the last day of the weekly summer night market (which starts late November and ends late February) at Queen Victoria Market. The Gaslight Night Market features crafts, food, entertainment and even on-site massages.

We had fun quickly browsing the products in each stall but went home empty-handed. It’s hard to enjoy shopping in 33 degrees heat rubbing elbows with other sweaty shoppers. Next year we’d go when the weather’s cooler.


In the Philippines, we display star-shaped lanterns like these (called parols) everywhere during Christmas. It’s nice to see them being sold here too (even though it’s a bit late or a little too early for Christmas). Click photo for more.

Published in: on February 24, 2005 at 12:02 am  Leave a Comment  

Job hunting in Australia

Gabriel and I recently received an email from one of the bosses of a company we’ve worked in when we were still in the Philippines. He said that another employee of the company has resigned from the company and would be moving to Australia soon. Perhaps we could help her settle here by giving her some tips? Gabriel sent her an email introducing himself, offering any help we may give her given that she would be landing in Sydney while we’re here in Melbourne. She replied back and asked the usual questions regarding information on local customs, things to bring and most importantly, job-hunting.

Which reminds me to the time when I first landed here, worried of not finding a job. It took me nearly 3 months to find my first job. I later found out from friends that three months is the average time for other Filipinos in my industry to find work too. To some, a quarter of a year may not seem too long to find employment but for someone like me who has never had a gap of more than two weeks between jobs, it’s pretty scary. By the end of the second month, I was ready to be a Kingsley’s (fast food) store attendant. I even filled in an application form and anxiously waited for them to contact me. When they did, it was in the form of a “Sorry but…” letter. I guess I lack the experience they wanted since I wasn’t able to put in anything in the related relevant experience section of the application.

Anyway, to be successful at finding work here, make sure you’re in the country on a valid visa first. Although I’ve known of some lucky people who were sponsored by recruitment agencies from their home countries, that was all before the technology bubble burst. I haven’t heard of anyone who was sponsored to come here after year 2000. To learn about your options in coming here to work, visit the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs website.

Once you get your visa and have a target arrival date, it’s time to visit the job sites to announce your availability to prospective employers. Some popular job sites are Seek, MyCareer, CareerOne and JobNet. Most, if not all, of these sites feature a free service where you could sign up for regular email updates to be sent directly to your mailbox when new jobs meeting your search criteria are posted in the site. Be quick in sending in your resume once you get the email since some jobs could be withdrawn once they get a lot of responses.

One thing to know about the job adversitements is that some job openings are advertised in multiple sites by multiple recruitment agencies. Unlike employers in the Philippines who handle their recruitment themselves, a popular option here is for a hiring company to outsource the recruitment process to a recruitment agency (sometimes to multiple agencies).

This means account managers from different agencies are given the job specifications, who then advertise for the position in different job sites and wait for the applications to pour in. Once they’ve weeded out the resumes of those who lack the qualifications/skills needed by the position, they’d shortlist the ones who do have the skills. At this point, the job applicant may get a preliminary phone interview from the account manager or even be requested to go to an actual interview in their office. Note that this is only an interview with the account manager, he/she is not the employer and may only have a limited knowledge of the job advertised or the company that would do the actual hiring.

If your interview with the account manager goes well, your name would be included in an even shorter list that would then be submitted to the employer who would now decide whom to interview. From this point on, the recruitment process is similar to that of interviewing with an employer who hires people directly. Although you’ve made it this far, it is not a guarantee that you’ll get an offer of employment. You still have to impress the employer with your interview skills and job know-how/experience.

I’ve had some experience with account managers and although I’ve gotten to the employer interview step several times, I’ve never gotten a job through them. One account manager even got my hopes up by repeatedly pressuring me to commit to an earlier start date and then leaving me out to dry. He didn’t even have the courtesy of informing me that I wasn’t chosen for the job. Poof, he simply vanished and didn’t return my calls. I got the idea.

There are still companies who do their own advertising, sifting through resumes, interviewing and finally, hiring. However, the majority of advertised jobs out there go through the agencies so be forewarned. You may even get a sense of deja vu when going through job ads from different sites, that’s because the advertisements are identical in the different sites posted by various agencies! A method that has worked for me is keeping a list of the company name, positions and the contact person’s name/address in a notebook.

Anyway, this post is getting long so I’ll stop there. I might get into applying for jobs in the public sector and other tips in my next post but don’t hold your breath!

Published in: on February 23, 2005 at 9:31 pm  Comments (2)  

Australian Slang

Before migrating to this land I now call home, I’ve read a few books about Australia at first to get better acquainted with its culture. Frankly, I didn’t know a lot about Australia when I was still in the Philippines. Most Filipinos at home dream of someday migrating to the US or Canada. Most Filipinos living in the metropolitan areas are well versed and accustomed to American culture.

Anyway, one of the things I’ve been warned about in the books is that Australians use a lot of slang. I guess you can say Americans use a lot of slang, too. The difference though is that I’m already aware of a lot of American slang.

The books also gave some examples of common Australian slang. I cannot remember which words were those but I can at least give you a list of the slang I’ve encountered in my five years here in Australia.

Arvo – afternoon
Aussie salute – brushing annoying flies away
Bikkie – biscuit / cookie
Bludger – lazy person
Brekkie – breakfast
Budgie smugglers – essentially, it means Speedos (the tight swimwear)
Bush – the uninhabited parts outside of towns
Chokkie – chocolate
Chook – chicken
Chrissie – Christmas
Chuck a sickie – take sick leave even though you are not actually sick
chuck – throw (as in Chuck in the bin for Throw it in the trash can)
Ciggies – cigarettes (ugh!)
Crook – sick, not feeling well
Compo – worker’s compensation (in case of work-related injuries)
Dag/Daggy – nerd/nerdy (or campy)
Daks – pants
Dob – tell on someone (as in what informants do)
Docket – receipt, bill
Doco – document, documentation
Dodgy – unreliable, of questionable quality
Esky – portable icebox (it’s actually a brand of icebox)
Fair dinkum – genuine, real deal
Fairy floss – cotton candy
Fags – cigarettes
Flake – shark flesh (when you see this in supermarkets, that means that fish is from a shark)
Footy – Australian Rules Footbal (according to my ex-boss, it doesn’t apply to Rugby)
Grouse – great, good
Heaps – lots (as in instead of “I have lots of work,” they may say “I have heaps of work.”)
Jumbuck – sheep (this is important because it’s part of the song Waltzing Matilda)
Larrikin – prankster
Lolly – candy
Maccas (pronounced as Mackers) – McDonalds (like the Filipino McDo)
Manchester – bedsheets
Mate – good friend (like the Filipino kabarkada)
Milk Bar – corner shop (like the Filipino sari-sari store but bigger)
Muck around – mess around
No dramas – no worries, no problems
Oz – Australia
Pash – passionate kiss
Perve – being a pervert
Pokies – poker machines
Pom – English man
Prawn – shrimp (obviously)
Prezzy – gift, present (as in Chrissie prezzy for Christmas gift)
Rego – registration (as in car rego for car registration)
Ripper – fantastic
Root – f*ck
Rubbish – garbage, trash (obviously)
Rubbish bin – trash can
She’ll be right! – it’ll be all right!
Stuffed – in trouble
Salvos – Salvation Army (or Salvo for a member of the Salvation Army)
Scratchy – instant scratch-away lottery ticket
Sheila – woman
Shout – turn to buy (like the Filipino pa-blowout)
Stoked – very pleased
Strine – Australian slang and pronunciation
Sunnies – sunglasses, shades
Tall poppy syndrome – like the Filipino crab mentality syndrome
Thongs – cheap rubber sandals (tsinelas)
Tucker – food
Uni – university
Ute – utility vehicle, pickup truck
Whinge – whine (as in whinger for whiner)
Yewy – U-turn

There are others but they are very obvious like Give it a go (Give it a try) or I reckon (I think) or No worries (no problems) or G’day (good day).

For more Australian slangs, you can read this:

Just added:
Someone commented asking for the slang to be used in sample sentences. You can read my attempt at composing sample sentences in Strine right here.

Published in: on February 22, 2005 at 11:43 pm  Comments (10)  

Drowning

I’ve just been reading my brother’s most recent blog titled Reminiscing and it got me thinking of what had happened to me a long time ago.

First, here is my brother’s account of the incident:

Then my mom also remembered the day my Kuya fell into a ditch/canal/sewer (I’m not really sure what you call that in english). But anyway, it was so dirty. And I think it was so deep. Me and my kuya were kids back then (I think I’m 5 or 6 and he was 7 or 8 ). I remembered that so well, because it was the day when we visited a dead relative of my cousin. Me, my kuya and my cousin were playing outside. It was kinda dark that my kuya didn’t notice a ditch on the side of the road. My cousin and I was thinking where my kuya went. He disappeared all of a sudden. Then we heard he was shouting from the ditch. We went and look and the funny thing is, I rememebered, I was just laughing my ass off. I’m bad, I know. But I was just a kid. I didn’t really know what to do. So I called my mom and told her that kuya fell into a ditch (I was still laughing). So they hurriedly ran outside and helped him get out of there. When my brother was out (he was as black as the night covered with icky gooey things), he bashed me on the shoulder. Huh. I guess, I really deserve that. I was so guilty that time. I should’ve helped him. But that was all in the past. My mom actually doesn’t want to remember it. It was so horrifying for her. I can’t blame her. ^_^

The funeral was for my cousin Caloy’s grandfather, if I recall correctly. This incident is one of the most memorable and traumatic memories I have. It’s just curious to read my brother’s account of the same incident based on his point of view.

Anyway, this is my account of what happened:

The sun already set and we were playing patintero along the street in front of Caloy’s house at Palanan, Makati. Our team wasn’t “taya” or “it” at the time.

The objective of the game is to run through a grid on the ground guarded by the opposing team’s players to score a “home run.” I wanted to score a home run so I was readying myself to run full speed to avoid the guards.

I took off but one of the guards noticed me and went for me. To avoid him, I side-stepped to my right and on to what I thought was just soft dirt-covered ground. I was shocked to realise my foot sank into the “ground!” I fell into the sewer and I didn’t even realise it until I was submerged well into it.

I was very young and I didn’t know how to swim. I was in a very panicked state and I didn’t even thought about trying to grab the edge of the sewer and get out. I was trying real hard not to drown.

I remembered yelling for help. Though I probably wasn’t very coherent with all that fluid in my mouth. I saw my brother and my cousin semi-crouched in front of me laughing! I was reaching out for them but they didn’t do anything.

Just when I was about to finally give up on the whole thing, my Tita (Aunt) Vangie fished me out of the sewer. Or maybe it was my Mom. I can’t remember anymore.

I don’t remember slapping Ringjo afterwards but I do remember being very upset about the whole incident. Not because I was embarassed about falling into the sewer. Not because my cousin and brother didn’t even try to help me out of the sewer. It was because I was holding a book I cherished then when I fell in. Falling into the sewer ruined the book. How geeky was I, huh?

Afterwards, they needed to wash me but they were hesitant to give me a bath in the house because of an old Filipino superstition that you shouldn’t take a bath in the house where the funeral wake is being held. I remember that Mom shampooed my hair and wiped me clean with a damp cloth. It’s not technically taking a bath but I was still cleansed from the sewer’s muck. Talk about finding a loop-hole in the superstition’s parameters.

Anyway, as you may have guessed, I survived that drowning incident. It isn’t my last drowning incident though. Maybe I’ll tell you about it another time because I have to go now and have dinner.

Published in: on February 22, 2005 at 6:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wizards and Warriors

For the past few days, I’ve been spending time drawing when not watching TV/DVD. Drawing a dragon, a warrior and a wizard in one picture to be precise.

In the recent past, I’ve frequented the Dragonsfoot Forums for out-of-print D&D products. I was an avid Classic (non-3E) Dungeons and Dragons player and the only places on the web where I can talk about the game is on this forum and on a mailing list.

The reason why there are people still interested in Classic D&D as opposed to the newer 3E (3rd Edition) D&D is that Classic is simpler and faster to play. Now, one of the Classic D&D Dungeon Masters, Ray aka MadDog, has players who wanted to play 3E rather than Classic.

As a compromise, he created a simplified version of the 3E rules so that it will retain the advantages of Classic. So as not to violate Wizards of the Coast or WotC (owner of D&D) trademarks and copyrights, Ray named the derived 3E D&D game as Wizards and Warriors.

Anyway, Ray apparently saw my website and discovered I could draw so he asked if I could draw a sort of book cover page for his PDF ebook. He wished it to be similar to the Erol Otis cover art for the original D&D box sets where there is a wizard, a warrior and a dragon duking it out.


Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rulebook with cover art by Erol Otis, ninth printing.

I probably won’t and can’t draw the picture the same way Erol Otis did in the cover but I’ll try to keep the Dragon, wizard and warrior motif. I’d probably draw it in my sketchy style and colour the thing in OpenCanvas afterwards. I haven’t really tried that look before but there’s always the first time. And since I really won’t get paid for drawing this, I thought it’s a good time to do some experimentation.

During the time I tried laying out the picture, I’ve discovered that it is a bit difficult to position all three “characters” in the picture so that all of them are partially facing the “camera.” Meaning, nobody has their back turned on the viewe. Well, I was able to come up with a layout so that even though you’ll be seeing the dragon’s back, you’ll still see its face, as it were.

Anyway, I haven’t really even begun to draw the actual picture. Just a bunch of thumbnails where I’m trying to determine the best possible layout for this piece. Hopefully, I’ll finish it soon because I still have a lot of drawing to do. Like drawing the pages to Chapter 7 of my webcomic.

Published in: on February 22, 2005 at 10:37 am  Leave a Comment  

House of Flying Daggers

Let me start by saying, “What a disappointment.”

Raquel and I watched the movie House of Flying Daggers/Shi mian mai fu starring Zhang Ziyi, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro this weekend.

I convinced Raquel to watch the movie with me because I thought it would be as good as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Hero. Well, there’s also the fact that Zhang Ziyi and Andy Lau starred in the film. If I’d known then that the Takeshi Kaneshiro person was also the lead in the movie The Returner (which I liked), I’d add him as another reason to have watched it. Anyway, the trailers also convinced me that it’s going to be a kick-ass martial arts action movie (like Crouching Tiger and Hero).

I guess, after watching Crounching Tiger and Hero, my expectations for this one was just too high. Nevertheless, we both found the film a disappointment. If you haven’t watched this movie yet and plan to watch it later, don’t read further. SPOILERS AHEAD!

So, why the disappointment? Let me count the ways.

My main gripe with it is that it gave the viewers the impression that the story was about the police wanting to track down the House of Flying Daggers rebel group and to put an end to them. The bulk of the movie dealt with this except that it wasn’t resolved in the end at all. They only showed that the police was sneaking towards the House of Flying Daggers “headquarters” and that’s it. Supposedly, the police are walking into an ambush but we never get to find out what happened next.

Another complaint, though minor, was that there were no establishing shots of the police headquarters nor the brothel. Another one is that the daggers seem to have a mind of their own. The victim raises his shield, the dagger flanks him and still hits the victim. Amazing. Okay, I can probably attribute that to the thrower having the chi to control the dagger. A reach, I know but eh.

Another complaint is that Jin and Leo stabbed each other’s back with a sword and they didn’t die. At first they looked like they were about to die but then they had enough life in both of them to continue arguing with each other. Jin even had the energy to run towards Mei.

And while I’m talking about Mei, let me tell you another complaint I have that related to her. She was earlier stabbed in the heart (or maybe near her heart) by Leo. Blood gushed out of her mouth and her chest was bleeding profusely. She fell to the ground seemingly dead. Jin rode back to the scene to find Mei dead. Jin then engaged Leo in a long drawn duel. Then, Jin and Leo managed to stab each other in the back with their swords (I already said this earlier). Just when they were both about to fall over, Mei miraculously turned out to still be alive!

Wow! If the stab didn’t kill her, the loss of blood should have (she would’ve been bleeding for over 30 minutes minimum!). But no. She wasn’t dead and she even had the strength to stand up, made threats and threw a “smart” dagger before finally dying. After that, Leo, who was stabbed in the back with a dagger and a sword was able to walk away from the scene. Sure, he was limpling but what the?!

The leader of the House of Flying Daggers wasn’t revealed at all. The outcome of the battle between the police and House wasn’t shown. If these two things weren’t important to the story, they they shouldn’t have made these things seem important.

Lastly, we both thought the pacing was a bit boring.

The only thing that is good witht he film were the fight scenes. But even then, I saw better in Hero. You’re better off watching that film instead.

I want to watch Constantine next week. Hopefully that one isn’t a disappointment.

Published in: on February 20, 2005 at 9:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Met with the Tooner Fish

Last Sunday, I met with Richard Stevens (aka Tooner Fish), creator of the webcomic Private Eye Butterfly. I got to know him through the Comics Australia forum (I don’t think that’s around anymore though).

Last weekend, he visited Melbourne (returned actually as he is originally from here). While here, we decided to meet in person. We primarily communicate through emails and forum posting so meeting someone I know only from the web was kinda exciting.

We were able to talk about lots of stuff relating to comics and art in Australia. The meeting was both enjoyable and educational. I got lots of ideas from him regarding sources of inspiration and techniques on networking with other artists around Australia.


Richard and Me.

I would’ve posted about this earlier except I’ve been busy with work. Anyway, I would’ve gone into greater details if it weren’t for the fact that it’s already past 1 AM as I’m writing this and I’m already getting very sleepy.

But yeah, I decided that I should get around more and meet other cartoonists around Australia, specially her in Melbourne. Hopefully, I’ll get to meet some of them when I start with my story boarding class next week.

Published in: on February 17, 2005 at 12:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Try Returning a Returned Borrowed Item

Raquel and I frequent the Melbourne City Library to borrow DVDs, CDs, books, and even comics. Yesterday, I wanted to borrow some CDs from the library. That’s when I found out that according to the library database, I still haven’t returned the Volume 2: Classic Goons Sketches CD which I borrowed about two weeks ago.

The thing was, I already returned the CD last week. I was sure of it. Well, almost sure. I told the librarian yesterday that I have in fact returned it already but I cannot verify that it wasn’t still at home. So she said that I have to check it first. She said that if the records say I didn’t return it, then it wasn’t returned yet.

Last night, I searched the apartment thoroughly for the CD but to no luck. I thought that the only place left where I could’ve left it was in the office. So when I got to the office this morning, I rummaged through my drawers for it but didn’t find it.

Finally, during lunch break, I dropped by the library to look at the shelves and see if the CD is actually there. Guess what? It is! I grabbed the CD and brought it to the librarian. How could I return something that was already returned?

She just said that these things happen and that she’ll fix my record. No apology though. Ah well.

Published in: on February 15, 2005 at 1:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Edited

Last night, T Campbell, my editor at Graphic Smash just sent me an email enumerating the corrections I need to apply on all the dialogue and text on my comics which was running since April 2001.

It was a pretty long list of corrections. After reading the problems, I went, “D’oh!” I couldn’t believe some of the mistakes I made:

  • Missing periods and commas.
  • Redundant words like using “also” and “too” in the same sentence.
  • Adding spaces where there shouldn’t be, like “black smith” instead of just “blacksmith.” (I know this one! D’oh!)
  • Removing spaces where there should be, like “bestfriend” instead of “best friend.”
  • Mixed tenses. This gets me everytime.
  • Applying emphasis on the wrong word like “SURE is hot” instead of “Sure is HOT.”

For a moment, I felt offended when I received the email regarding the necessary corrections. Just for a moment, though. I felt the same way back in university whenever I submitted an article for the school paper and the editor corrected my work. I just couldn’t help it.

But I understood that that’s what editors do. And that the corrections they asked for were, well, correct. In the end, I’d rather they catch the mistakes early so that I will have the time to fix them even before the reader gets to see the pages. Also, I get to learn stuff that I never knew before. An example is that I didn’t know it’s supposed to be “sic ’em” and not “sick ’em.”

Anyway, last night, I applied the corrections for Chapters one and two already. It took me some time to do because I made some minor changes to the pages I was correcting, too, such as changing the font and applying little cosmetic touch-ups on the old drawings. I’ll be working on the rest of the chapters tonight when I get home.

Published in: on February 15, 2005 at 12:50 pm  Leave a Comment